Reverend Ryan talks about religion and marijuana
As a Utah native, born and raised in Utah county and as a person who grew up around a lot of prescription drugs, alcohol and tobacco as well, I later experimented with marijuana as a teen and young adult.
My experimentation with marijuana got me in big trouble as a teenager and a young adult.
Some of my consequences were.
1. Loss of my freedom
2. Loss of my money
3. Loss of my job
4. Loss of my friends
5. Loss of my family (in regards to a relationship)
6. Loss of my home
7. Denial for getting into the military
8. A life long drug record
The consequences above are a fair warning to anyone who thinks that they should try marijuana.
Other consequences can include the police busting down your door and possibly shooting your dog, your family members and you, which happens almost daily in the USA.
But this topic is about marijuana and religion. Since Utah is a borderline theocratic state, and 80% of the legislators in Utah are LDS (despite that less than 60% of the population is LDS). I decided to illustrate how marijuana/cannabis/ganja usage is not in conflict with religion, not even the LDS faith as the fundamental level.
First of all, lets go over Bible scriptures and doctrines.
1. Genesis 1:29, basically the very first page of the Bible.
King James Bible (Cambridge Ed.)
And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.
That scripture should be self descriptive. Nothing more needs to be added to that.
2. Deuteronomy 14:26 KJV
And thou shalt bestow that money for whatsoever thy soul lusteth after, for oxen, or for sheep, or for wine, or for strong drink, or for whatsoever thy soul desireth: and thou shalt eat there before the Lord thy God, and thou shalt rejoice, thou, and thine household,
3. Then we get into something a little more complicated, which is kaneh bosm .
This Hebrew word comes from Exodus 30:23, and is a part of the ingredients for the anointing oil of Moses.
Not many scholars dispute that this is a reference to cannabis/marijuana/hemp/ganja.
But for those who reject this idea. I refer you do a scholar named who has written about the Holy anointing oil.
In his book The Living Torah: A new Translation Based On Traditional Jewish Sources
Aryeh Kaplan points out that historically based on many sources and Septuagint readings, this Hebrew word means “cannabis”.
In 1 Timothy 4:1-5 we see how the Pharisees were acting like the prohibitionists of today:
1 Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;
2 Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;
3 Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.
4 For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving:
5 For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.
(definition of meat in the Bible, look up the verse quoted earlier from Genesis 1:29, plants equal meat in many Bible verses)
Further more we can see how LDS leaders and LDS doctrine evolved to be much like the Pharisees and Sagisees in their sect of religion.
At first tobacco and alcohol were consumed and even sold by Joseph Smith and many of the early founders, even Brigham Young.
Joseph Smith’s Bar
In Nauvoo Joseph Smith sold liquor. The following ordinance relating to this matter was passed in 1843, Joseph Smith being mayor of Nauvoo at the time:
Ordinance on the Personal Sale of Liquors.
Section 1. Be it ordained by the City Council of Nauvoo, that the Mayor of the city be and is hereby authorized to sell or give spirits of any quantity as he in his wisdom shall judge to be for the health and comfort or convenience of such travelers or other persons as shall visit his house from time to time.
Passed December 12, 1843.
Joseph Smith, Mayor.
Willard Richards, Recorder. (History of the Church, vol. 6, p.111).
Joseph Smith’s own son related the following:
About 1842, a new and larger house was built for us … and a sign was put out giving it the dignified name of “The Nauvoo Mansion” …Mother was to be installed as landlady, and soon made a trip to Saint Louis….
When she returned Mother found installed in the keeping-room of the hotel – that is to say, the main room where the guests assembled and where they were received upon arrival – a bar, with counter, shelves, bottles, glasses and other paraphernalia customary for a fully-equipped tavern bar, and Porter Rockwell in charge as tender.
She was very much surprised and disturbed over this arrangement,… “Joseph,” she asked, “What is the meaning of that bar in this house? … How does it look,” she asked, “for the spiritual head of a religious body to be keeping a hotel in which is a room fitted out as a liquor-selling establishment?”
He reminded her that all taverns had their bars at which liquor was sold or dispensed….
Mother’s reply came emphatically clear, though uttered quietly: “Well, Joseph,… I will take my children and go across to the old house and stay there, for I will not have them raised up under such conditions as this arrangement imposes upon us, nor have them mingle with the kind of men who frequent such a place. You are at liberty to make your choice; either that bar goes out of the house, or we will!”
It did not take Father long to make the choice, for he replied immediately, “Very well, Emma; I will have it removed at once” – and he did (The Saints’ Herald, January 22, 1935, p.110).
Brigham Young admits to Word of Wisdom problems:
Brigham Young declared on September 27, 1845: “… I am and ever intend to be the Master of my passions … some may say that I am in the habits of taking snuff and tea yet I am no slave to these passions and can leave these off if they make my brother affronted….” In 1854 Brigham Young drank coffee on a regular basis (see Mormonism – Shadow or Reality? p.408). On April 7, 1867, Brigham Young acknowledged in the Tabernacle that he had chewed tobacco for many years: “… it is not my privilege to drink liquor, neither is it my privilege to eat tobacco. Well, bro. Brigham, have you not done it? Yes, for many years, but I ceased its habitual practice. I used it for toothache; now I am free from that pain, and my mouth is never stained with tobacco” (Journal of Discourses, vol. 12, p.404).
The Mormon Church clearly sold and bought liquor, tobacco, coffee, etc.
Stanley P. Hirshon writes:
In Utah the church dominated the liquor trade. In 1856 Caleb Green freighted six tons of tobacco, rum, whiskey, brandy, tea, and coffee across the plains for Young, and two years later The New York Times reported that the “principal drinking-saloon and gambling-room are in Salt Lake House, a building under the control of the Church and the immediate superintendency of Heber C. Kimball.” …Young tried his best to rid himself of rival brewers (The Lion of the Lord, p.285).
On June 7, 1863, Brigham Young acknowledged publicly that he had built a distillery:
“When there was no whisky to be had here, and we needed it for rational purposes, I built a house to make it in. When the distillery was almost completed and in good working order, an army was heard of in our vicinity and I shut up the works; I did not make a gallon of whisky at my works, because it came here in great quantities, more than was needed” (Journal of Discourses, vol. 10, p.206).
In his sermons Brigham Young occasionally discussed the idea of Mormons producing their own tea, coffee, tobacco and whiskey and making money from it:
You know that we all profess to believe the “Word of Wisdom.” There has been a great deal said about it…. We as Latter-day Saints, care but little about tobacco: but as “Mormons” we use a great deal…. The traders and passing emigration have sold tons of tobacco, besides what is sold here regularly. I say that $60,000 annually is the smallest figure I can estimate the sales at. Tobacco can be raised here as well as it can be raised in any other place. It wants attention and care. If we use it, let us raise it here. I recommend for some man to go to raising tobacco…. go to and make a business of raising tobacco and stop sending money out of the territory for that article…. We annually expend only $60,000 to break the “Word of Wisdom,” and we can save the money and still break it, if we will break it (Journal of Discourses, vol. 9, p.35).
The statement by Mormon Apostle George A. Smith would also lead a person to believe that wine was used to excess: “… after the people had fasted all day, they sent out and got wine and bread…. they ate and drank…. some of the High Counsel of Missouri stepped into the stand, and, as righteous Noah did when he awoke from his wine, commenced to curse their enemies (Journal of Discourses, vol. 2, p.216).
In my opinion those who are denied temple entrance or who are disciplined for consuming mind altering substances share a similar lot in life with Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, Parley Pratt and many of the early apostles who enjoyed mind altering substances as well.
Even up until Joseph Smith’s last moments he was drinking and smoking.
Joseph and Hyrum Smith were murdered in a gunfight in the late afternoon of June 27, 1844. The hours immediately before that gunfight, which Joseph, Hyrum, John Taylor, and Willard Richards spent smoking, drinking, and singing to lighten their mood.
“Before the jailor came in, his boy brought in some water, and said the guard wanted some wine. Joseph [Smith] gave Dr. Richards two dollars to give the guard; but the guard said one was enough, and would take no more.
“The guard immediately sent for a bottle of wine, pipes, and two small papers of tobacco; and one of the guards brought them into the jail soon after the jailor went out. Dr. Richards uncorked the bottle, and presented a glass to Joseph, who tasted, as brother and the Doctor, and the bottle was then given to the guard, who turned to go out.”
(History of the Church, Vol. 6, page 616)
Long after Joseph Smith’s death, in the Salt Lake City temple there were installed spittoons.
(in the PDF above you will see several shots of spittoons in the SLC temple like the picture below)
1911 Photo from inside the Salt Lake City Temple.
It has been claimed the photo depicts white spittoons
at the foot of several chairs.
Now that we have the religious hypocrisy out of the way. Lets just talk about the harm and lack of harm in regards to mind altering substances.
According to many reports including the government managed Center for Disease Control (www.cdc.gov), marijuana kills zero people a year.
Some links for this statistic are:
Now lets get to the nitty gritty about Utah. Utah is often touted as having less illicit drug usage and less alcohol usage than many other states in the USA, and this is true. However the danger here is the false sense of safety.
More often than not the fact that Utah doubles the national average in prescription drug abuse and overdose is left out of the claims of how healthy Utah is.
I illustrated this via a recent critique of a Springville Utah PSA video that was released in 2010.
Reference to the March 18th 2008 city council meeting:
And since Springville recently removed this document from their website, you can also see it in the internet archives here: http://web.archive.org/web/20110427152719/http://www.springville.org/agendasminutes/ccw/2008/ccw_minutes_2008_03_18.pdf
More information on Utah’s out of control mental health issues are at:
This is a video that I made on May 18th 2012, Reverend Ryan talks about religion and marijuana